Four brilliant short stories to read for free online

31Jul12

I’ve been trying to write short stories so I’ve been reading lots to see how all the big guys do it, though often when I come across a corker, it’s so intimidating that I spend the rest of the afternoon staring into space with my mouth open and paper blank.

Four stories of such calibre, all written by female writers, are below, free to read online. WOW is what you’ll say when you read them. JUST WOW.

  1. A Good Man Is Hard To Find by Flannery O’Connor* (pictured) is masterful and terrifying. Her writing is macabre as it gets – try Wise Blood if you can bear it – but interestingly the dark parts of her writing, coming from her Christian realist perspective, are actually meant to be moments of grace. She uses violence to allow her characters a glimpse of the potential of salvation – though it’s not always much comfort for the spooked reader … you might need to watch New Girl afterwards. That’s all I’m saying.
  2. Alice Munro’s The Bear Came Over The Mountain – one of the best short story writers ever in the world ever anywhere, Munro penned brilliant tales in between changing nappies and school runs. If I was wearing a hat, I’d take it off to her. Then I’d give her a high five. Then she’d probably ask me to leave. This one is sad and beautiful and her treatment of the passage of time is eloquent and brilliant.
  3. Ursula Le Guin’s The Ones Who Walk Away From OmelasSome folk squirm at the term sci-fi, but Le Guin’s work crosses many borders. Throughout her life she’s done a sterling job of bigging up the genre, and this little piece of fiction – only fitting into place at the end – shows her at the top of her game. And you may call that game RADNESS.
  4. Shirley Jackson’s The Lotterywritten in 1948, generated more complaints than the New Yorker had ever had at the time. It’s another dark one, and like the best fiction writers, she makes writing look easy. I love the way it was conceived – it came to her when she was living in a small town, walking back from the shops and pushing the pram with a baby in it. What a moment.

*One of my favourite things about Flannery O’Connor’s odd life: “when I was six I had a chicken that walked backward and was in the Pathé News. I was in it too with the chicken. I was just there to assist the chicken but it was the high point in my life. Everything since has been anticlimax.” I mean, what the absolute fuck. Bonkers. What a legend.

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2 Responses to “Four brilliant short stories to read for free online”

  1. 1 aki

    Thanks for introducing these great writers. But how about Kate Chopin?
    She is one of the greatest storyteller of time.


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